So Your Season is Cancelled – Now What?

  • May 08, 2020

Tips for talking to your athletes about disappointment

The cancellation of playoffs, meets, tournaments and even whole seasons during these times have been a huge source of disappointment to coaches, athletes and parents.

Even as some businesses across Ontario start to reopen, it appears that it will still be some time before we’ll be back together in groups, which is almost always necessary for sports.

Below we’ve put together some talking points to help you and your athletes get through this season’s setbacks and start preparing for the next one.

  1. Tell them it’s okay to be disappointed
    For some athletes, cancellations may mean they will miss their final competition or season at a specific level or with a certain team. For others, it’s been something circled on the calendar for months, a motivating force to look forward to during difficult times. The loss of these things are huge disappointments that are not easy to get over quickly, and that’s okay to acknowledge. Encouraging your athletes to verbalize their sadness or frustrations is a helpful first step towards working through their feelings and moving past these setbacks.
  2. Discuss how sports helps us to become more resilient
    Sport helps to teach us that we can handle whatever is thrown at us. The lessons that we teach on the playing field can be extrapolated to our current situation and help our athletes to develop resiliency and grow as people.
  3. Remind them that the training and hard work they have put in isn’t for nothing
    It’s crucial to remind athletes that all of the effort and dedication they have put in to preparing for this season has not gone to waste. Any time an athlete has spent training has inevitably helped to improve their skill set and fitness, and this will still be beneficial when they can resume competition. Setbacks – such as an injury or an illness – can cause the loss of a season at any time. There will be more opportunities in the future and all of their hard work will eventually pay off.
  4. Focus on small, achievable goals
    Helping your athletes to create a routine and control what is possible right now is a huge step towards achieving a level of normalcy during this time. There are many ways that coaches and teammates can still stay connected, even when they’re not face-to-face. Try virtual training sessions or team hangouts to keep cohesion high among teammates.
  5. Help them focus on what they want to achieve in the future
    Now is a great time to talk about goal-setting and encourage your athletes to spend some time reflecting on their pathway in their sport and what they would like to achieve in the short and long term. This extends to coaches too. Are there any workshops or professional development courses you’ve wanted to do, but never had the time? Now is the perfect opportunity.

Sports gives us the foundation to adapt and stay resilient during difficult times. By reminding your athletes that they already possess the tools necessary to cope with these setbacks, you will help them to adjust to the current situation more quickly, and continue to develop into even better athletes and people.

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